Twenty Access to Justice Fellows, Including Retired Judges, to Work on Pro Bono Projects
Experienced Members of Legal and Business Communities to Work on Yearlong Projects
BOSTON, MA --At an event at the John Adams Courthouse today, the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, in partnership with the state Judiciary and the Lawyers Clearinghouse, announced the selection of twenty Access to Justice Fellows who will partner with non-profit, legal services organizations and the courts on pro bono projects throughout the Commonwealth from 2015 to 2016.
This first of its kind program in the state, which has grown from seven fellows since its start in 2012 to twenty this year, enables experienced attorneys who have retired or are transitioning into retirement an opportunity to work for a year or longer providing critically needed legal assistance to underserved populations. This year, four retired judges from the Massachusetts Trial Court are participating in the program; retired Supreme Judicial Court Justice John Greaney is an honorary fellow.
This year's fellows were formally introduced at an event at 5 p.m. in the Seven Justice Courtroom of the John Adams Courthouse. Supreme Judicial Court Justice Geraldine S. Hines, co-chair of the Access to Justice Commission, delivered keynote remarks. Susan M. Finegan, Esq., co-chair of the Commission together with Justice Hines and Pro Bono Partner at Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, PC, delivered opening remarks.
"I'm thrilled at the strides the Access to Justice Fellows Program has made over the past three years as it continues to grow in number with twenty fellows experienced in the judiciary, legal and business professions participating this year," said Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Gants, a former co-chair of the Access to Justice Commission. "This year, retired Supreme Judicial Court Justice John Greaney will be an honorary fellow, in addition to four retired Trial Court judges, who will be working on pro bono projects that will greatly benefit underserved populations across the state."
The program is structured by partnering fellows with a legal services provider, non-profit organization, or court department of their choice. Each fellow is expected to devote between 10 to 20 hours per week to individual pro bono projects from September 2015 to June 2016. Fellows will meet once a month to share their experiences and ideas to help them better assist the needs of the communities they will be serving.
This year’s projects include: leading a legislative initiative to make female genital mutilation illegal in Massachusetts; efforts to reform the criminal justice system to end mass incarceration; providing information and counseling to veterans to remove barriers to housing and employment; work on immigration matters, including asylum intake and applications; and working with The Boston Harbor Association advising on governance issues as the association proceeds with merger negotiations, among many other projects.
The Access to Justice Fellowship was conceived in 2012 in response to severe cutbacks in funding that forced legal services programs and non-profit organizations to reduce staff and restrict services despite the increasing need among populations they serve. Since the program’s inception, Fellows have provided approximately 30,500 pro bono hours in Massachusetts. Members of the Access to Justice Commission sought to address this problem by mining the talents of experienced lawyers approaching retirement age who wish to remain active members of their communities and help people in need of legal services. Attorneys Susan Finegan and Martha Koster, partners at the law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., led the Access to Justice Fellows Working Group in designing the program. The Lawyers Clearinghouse now funds the program, which is managed by Access to Justice Fellows Program Director Mia Friedman.
The 2015 - 2016 Access to Justice Fellows are as follows:
- Dick Bauer, of Counsel to the National Consumer Law Center and former Senior Attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) for almost 30 years
- Ann Baum, solo family law practitioner in Boston and partner at the law firm of Baum and Dockter, LLC
- Deborah Benson, retired from her law practice of 32 years and former partner at Hinckley Allen
- John Bowman, former Assistant Attorney General and former partner in Bowman & Penski
- Jerry Cohen, partner at Burns & Levinson and member of the firm's Intellectual Property, Privacy and Data Security, Business Litigation, International, Life Sciences and Corporate Groups
- Hon. John Cratsley, retired Massachusetts Superior Court Associate Justice
- Michael Diener, former partner at Hale and Dorr and then WilmerHale in the Intellectual Property department and in the Intellectual Property Litigation group
- Janet Donovan, former Managing Attorney of the Legal Advocacy Program at Casa Myrna Vasquez, Inc.
- Hon. Raymond Dougan, retired First Justice of the Central Division of the Boston Municipal Court
- Hon. David Fuller, retired Hampden Probate and Family Court judge
- Gretchen Graef, of Counsel to Verrill Dana, retired after practicing family law for 15 years
- Hon. John Greaney, retired Supreme Judicial Court justice, will serve as an Honorary Fellow for the Access to Justice Fellows Program.
- Ernest Haddad, has served as general counsel of large non-profit and government organizations, most recently was General Counsel of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare System (1981-2002)
- William Lahey, partner at Anderson & Kreiger
- Marilyn Lyng O'Connell, former Executive Director of the Judicial Nominating Commission and Deputy Legal Counsel in the Office of Governor Deval L. Patrick (2010-2015)
- Hon. Susan Ricci, retired Massachusetts Probate and Family Court judge
- Donald Shulman, retired partner at Goulston & Storrs, P.C. and continues with Goulston & Storrs in an of counsel role
- Jean Sifleet, 40 years working in business in a variety of management, consulting, and private practice roles, with corporate experience including strategic planning and program management positions in large high tech companies
- Johanna Soris, retired Assistant Attorney General from the Office of the Attorney General's Nonprofit Organizations/Public Charities Division
- Al Zabin, former partner and of counsel at Duane Morris LLP